D. E-F. E-N-S-E. DEFENSE!
I am not sure how many times I have heard it, but it the most common phrase attached to the Predators. They have one of, if not the, best top-four defensive groups in the NHL. If you look through the stats, the Predators are the sixth best defense in the league, and that is without Ryan Ellis playing until now.
What is the purpose of defense? Shut the other team down from scoring. That being the case, the best defense the Predators have is Pekka Rinne.
Fact: The Nashville Predators are one of the worst shot-suppressing teams in the NHL. Teams average 32.79 shots per game against the Predators, and that is seventh worst the NHL offers. And, what once was the best penalty kill in the league is fallen to tenth.
On the season, the Predators’ shot differential is -90. If the team wants to win, they need to keep opponents from scoring. Rinne and Saros must be the last line of defense. At times, they are the only line of defense the Predators boast.
Can the defense stop more shots and keep opponents from scoring? Sure. Adding Ellis should help. But the entire team needs to step up the defense.
Don’t get me wrong. While my oft pessimistic view of the Predators will make one wonder if I really love the team, I do. I only wish to be a realist and look at things they way they are.